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Budgets | Financial & Accounting | Issues - Political | News | Scandals & Investigations | USA

The Pentagon’s Broken Book-keeping

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Defense reform critics like Chuck Spinney, and government organizations like the GAO, have complained for years that the Pentagon’s accounting system is broken. Considerable amounts of money are still being spent trying to improve the services’ systems in order to realize a “clean audit,” but the DoD’s books are such a mess that its accountants aren’t wasting any money by trying to run comprehensive audits. Last year, Managing Director Gregory D. Kutz of the Government Accountability Office told Congress that these accounting problems would cost taxpayers approximately $13 billion in 2005. Indeed, the GAO has classified the Pentagon’s accounting systems as “high risk” since the 1990s. Now the Raleigh-Durham News & Observer has a report that details the extent of the problem, and the troubles these systems are causing for some troops in the field. But why do the problems persist, even after all of these years? In a word, scale. The News & Observer notes that the Pentagon has 4,150 different systems, including 713 different human resources systems. Rep. Todd Platts [R-PA] was quoted as saying that “The [US Department of Defense] for more than five decades has just kind of layered system on top of system on top […]

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